Sunshine, beaches with space to spare, native scenery hugging the coastal road. A classic day at the beach complete with ice creams and wharf to jump off. Maraetai is all about the beach. Maraetai Beach is a very strong contender for the best beach, in the Auckland area. It is possible to swim at all tides, although high tide is best. There’s a wharf that makes for a popular diving platform and there’s plenty of parking along the foreshore. Take your pick from several cafes or restaurants while watching all the beach activity.
Start your journey from Auckland heading in the direction of Whitfored. Travel along Whitford-Maraetai Road where you will observe signs for Pacific Coast Highway. Continue east enjoying the stands of beautiful coastal bush and the spectacular views of the Firth of Thames. Pass road signs for the seaside town of Beachlands. Your road will be signposted Pacific Coast Highway.
Omana Regional Park is your first stop with its beach walks, campgrounds and picnic areas. From Omana Regional Park return to the main road and turn left. In fifteen minutes you will reach your destination Maraetai beach. Swinging by Umupuia beach you will return to Auckland on the inland route.
Omana Regional Park has got a lot, panoramic views of Firth of Thames, sweeping grassed spaces for families, beaches with rock pools and safe swimming areas, cool shaded bush walks and allows dogs on a lease to walk in prescribed areas. The perimeter walk and farm walk are easy walking tracks. It is very tempting to simply stay put and spend your day at Omana.
And a wharf where jumping off is a summer rite of passage. The marina had budding yachties practicing all their moves on the water making for all those white sails against an azure sea and sky.
Cafes and toilets encourage you to throw down the beach towel and linger with the shallow Firth of Thames water making the beach a safe place for families.
On your return to Auckland the drive along the winding cliff top road around the small picturesque bays, follow the sharp right hand turn inland and a short distance away is the second regional park in the area. The drive to Umupuia (Duders) Regional Park is perhaps one of the most exquisite road trips in New Zealand. Imagine a short fifteen / twenty minute journey packed with sharp curves hugging the Firth of Thames seascape, fringed with enormous Pohutukawa trees gnarled and moulded by nature, wind and age as quintessential Kiwiana postcard trees, glimpses of people fishing from rocks and people supine on small coves, there is light and shade reflecting the shape and scent of a New Zealand summer.
And all of this is encapsulated in a short regional drive from Maraetai beach to Umupuia Regional Park. The jewel of your day is the return to Auckland.
This is signposted and there is parking available. It is a reasonable walk into the park and to the coves and beaches. Consider the two-hour Farm Loop through rolling pastures passing grazing sheep surrounded by incredible sea views stretching across to Waiheke and Ponui islands. This walk is 2 hours, 4.3km.
Or you can consider “Duder Sustainable Trail 1.5 hour, 4km Learn how Duder Regional Park is walking the talk on sustainability. This 1.5 hour walk is marked by yellow markers and is a fun and practical way to learn about sustainable farming,” as described by the park brochure. A return visit is necessary as you have just enough time to scoot around the park briefly before promising to return.
I had one of those magical moments where I was in the right place, at the right time. Two majestic wakas (sea going vessels) were drawn up on the beach awaiting Waitangi Day (National Day) celebrations.
I thought about sea voyaging wakas with their flax woven sails, navigating by the stars, wind direction and sea currents. You are memorised by the apparent frailty of the waka and the massive journeys they undertook. Courage and seamanship rolled into those flax sails. Umupuia is home to Ngai Tai ki Tamaki’s marae and is an important cultural centre for the Ngai Tai tribe who have occupied the area since the earliest days of Maori settlement in Aotearoa (New Zealand).
I witnessed a New Zealand family of Tongan descent join me waka watching. Their hands reverently stroked the sides of the vessel while quietly murmuring to their young children.
I felt the kinship of sailing across the Pacific narrative was being told. An evident pride in the accomplishment of polynesian seafaring was being told. May those stories of polynesian navigation continue to be told.
Clevedon country town on Pohutukawa Coast Trail.
Woodzone New Zealand made woodware and furniture.
Clevedon Village Farmers Market (Sunday) a popular market.
Visit the historic McNicol Homestead Museum. Visit the display rooms for a glimpse into New Zealand in the 1800s and enjoy a picnic in the garden.
Hunau Ranges Regional Park and Hunau Falls.
Clevedon Coast Oysters are open Monday-Friday, Saturday & Sunday: 9.00am – 4.00pm. OYSTER GALLEY open Saturday & Sunday 10.00am-4.00pm. Galley open on Fridays 11.00am-3.00pm
Relish Delicatessen offers a relaxed village atmosphere. You can choose from a menu of breakfast and lunch meals which can be enjoyed on a couple of small tables both inside and out.
The journey is worth it.